The Battle of Mission Concepción
The Battle of the Mission Concepción took place on October 28, 1835. Concepción was one of five historic missions in San Antonio including San Jose, San Juan, Espada, and the Alamo. These Christian outposts were designed for prayer, agriculture, teaching, and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But during the Texas war for independence, some of these treasured buildings became armed fortresses.
When San Antonio became fortified by the Mexican army, the Texan army needed to find a suitable place to rendezvous. On October 27, Commander Stephen F. Austin sent Colonel James Bowie and Captain James W. Fannin, Jr., to lead about 90 men from Mission Espada to Mission Concepción because it was closer to the center of town. Once they had surveyed the area, they located a horseshoe-shaped gully by the San Antonio River that was a safe place to spend the night. The next day, part of the Mexican army attacked them. But a heavy fog settled over the area and gave the superior Texan marksmen the advantage. The battle lasted about 30 minutes with the winning Texans losing only one soldier, Captain Richard Andrews.
In the months following the Battle of Concepción, we began to learn more about the heroic soldiers that participated in it. Jim Bowie was already a well-known and feared warrior. His custom-made knife was a dangerous weapon in is hands. Because of its’ unique design, other soldiers wanted a model just like it. Behind the knife, Bowie was a man that was acquainted with war, but had decided to follow the Prince of Peace. In 1828, Jim Bowie made a public commitment to Christ and was baptized. As a sign of his personal vow, he often closed important documents with the phrase, “God and Liberty.”
James Walker Fannin, Jr., attended the Military Academy at West Point and served as a Captain with the Texan army. He was known as a brave and stalwart leader of men. Though his military judgment may be questioned, his commitment to Christ was well known. At Goliad, he was the last of his men to be massacred. When his time came, the enemy soldiers blindfolded him for the firing squad. His last request was to have a Christian burial.
Several other heroic soldiers at the Battle of Concepción include Henry Wax Karnes and Valentine Bennet. Karnes was a legendary fighter for liberty, and an outspoken Christian. Bennet was also a noted fighter for freedom and committed to the Christian faith. Once, when he was captured and sitting in an enemy prison, he wrote a long letter to his children. As he closed the letter he said: “Go on in the path of Virtue and you will be sure to be prosperous and happy.” This seems to be an obvious reference to 2 Peter 1:5: “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge.”
Not long ago, my wife and I walked the hallowed grounds of Mission Concepción. It remains the oldest unrestored stone church in America. For over 250 years it has proudly stood for faith and freedom in the heart of San Antonio. Daily, the ministers lead worship services under the vaulted dome and twin bell towers. Here Christian heroes lived and died. Here, the testimony of Jesus Christ has been spoken since before the 1776 American Revolution.
Let us not forget the Godly heritage of this great State of Texas. May we be faithful to Deuteronomy 8:18 - "But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”